By: T. M. Moore|Published: September 4, 2007 10:22 AM
The surprising popularity (especially to them) of the antitheistic rants of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens threatens to establish a kind of respectability for varieties of unbelief.
British intellectual Jonathan Miller is pleased to see "disbelief, now free from persecution" and "much more out in the open." In an interview in the July-August 2007 issue of The Humanist, Miller reiterates the common complaints of unbelievers against belief in God -- that it is "absurd," "logically incoherent," and doesn't "make sense" -- and is gratified that American "disbelievers" no longer need to be ashamed or embarrassed by their views. Miller doesn't expect to see religion disappearing any time soon. He believes "there are all sorts of reasons why religion survives and flourishes," but they're apparently not good enough for him to give belief in God a second thought; he doesn't "even want to carry on the conversation."
Miller is the producer of a series entitled A Brief History of Unbelief which Bill Moyers and others are championing for PBS, and which would certainly help to firm up unbelief's emerging status.
Before this goes too far, however, some clarification is in order. Those who claim to be atheists, unbelievers, or disbelievers give the impression that, because they don't believe in the God of the Bible, they don't "believe" at all. They're guided by "logical coherence" and "views" that "make sense," apart from anything so nebulous, credulous, and irrational as faith. But, in a real sense, there's no such thing as an unbeliever or a disbeliever -- or even an atheist, for that matter. All non-Christians believe in something, and all people hold to some ultimate "views" and beliefs which serve for them in the same role the God of the Bible does for Christians. They may only believe in the reliability of unaided reason, or hard science, or mere intuition, or whatever, but believe they do, and they should not be allowed to disguise the fact or nature of their personal faith by referring to it as unbelief or disbelief. Rather, it is another belief, another faith, an alternative worldview that is as much dependent on ultimately unprovable presuppositions as is faith in Jesus Christ. The debate, therefore, is not between belief and unbelief, but between different systems of belief, and the onus falls on each to demonstrate, across a wide range of questions, which is the most logically coherent, which makes the best sense, and which is, in fact, absurd.